The Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science

5 November, 2006

Old article, but still worthwhile.

The one that the “health” food nutters use is number 5:

5. The discoverer says a belief is credible because it has endured for centuries. There is a persistent myth that hundreds or even thousands of years ago, long before anyone knew that blood circulates throughout the body, or that germs cause disease, our ancestors possessed miraculous remedies that modern science cannot understand. Much of what is termed “alternative medicine” is part of that myth.

Ancient folk wisdom, rediscovered or repackaged, is unlikely to match the output of modern scientific laboratories.

Flogging off a random plant that was allegedly eaten for “health benefits” by a stone-age culture to ignorant dupes is exactly the sort of fraudulent crap that places like Blackmores do.

When I become leader of New Zealand and rename it Meromotopia, the first thing that I’ll do will be to require all these crappy products that don’t work to have a large warning that takes up the same proportion of the packet as the anti-smoking propaganda cigarettes are forced to have on them, that says:

NOT SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN.

Health claims made

by this product are for

entertainment puposes only.

 

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Frozen Excel Art

23 August, 2006

One of the more interesting quirks of Windows is how an application that has hung or frozen often ceases refreshing the screen, so that if you move that particular Window, you get an alarming spasmodic splash of partial toolbars, text, and whatever other information happened to be on your now sadly lost work.

It’s probably a little more visually exciting than the spinning beachball of death, but certainly causes more stomach ulcers.

As I said, moving the window gives you this random sort of updating as the Windows struggles to do something with the locked-up app. And since there’s nothing else you can do except wait and hope it sorts itself out, I find myself making pretty patterns by swooshing the window around my desktop. And so, I present my first iinstallation of what is sure to be an avant garde new medium: Frozen Excel Art!

Should I charge for this…? ­čśë

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Update: I’ve taken down the pics for now: trying to do any sort of photo editing on a locked down Windows piece of crap at work is impossible, and WordPress only reduced the physical dimensions of them when I uploaded, it didn’t reduce the size (i.e. in kilobytes). So they were massive. My apologies to those on dial-up.

Will get on a proper computer later on, and put up smaller versions of my artistic┬ábrilliance…


Another Reason I Don’t Use Microsoft Products

10 August, 2006

Nine years, and up to version 6.0.2900.2180.xpsp_sp2_gdr.050301-, whatever the hell that means, and still Internet Explorer is utter utter crap. I’m not even talking about security and suchlike,but purely from a user’s point of view. Look at the bizarrely worded dialogue box it throws at me when I drag an image from a web page to the desktop:

huh.JPG

Do I want to move OR copy?

Um, OK, I want to copy.

My options: Yes and No.

Fantastic.


New Zealanders Just as Ignorant and Gullible as Americans Shock.

13 July, 2006

How embarrassing – I just found out that New Zealand’s most populous city was the 2005 recipient of a Pigasus Award. This is an annual tongue-in-cheek honour awarded by┬ánoted skeptic James Randi. The awards seek to expose parapsychological frauds that Randi has noted over the previous year. Randi usually makes his announcements of the awards from the previous year on April 1.

 There are four categories:

1. To the Scientist who said or did the silliest thing relating to parapsychology in the preceding twelve months.
2. To the Funding Organization that supports the most useless parapsychological study during the year.

3. To the Media outlet that reported as fact the most outrageous paranormal claim.
4. To the “Psychic” performer who fools the greatest number of people with the least effort in that twelve-month period.


The City Council of Auckland received the award under the Funding category, for a $2500 grant to the Foundation For Spiritualist Mediums “to teach people to communicate with the dead”.

What’s next, people start believing that acupuncture and homeopathy work?


Crap in the Email Details. Part 2

19 June, 2006

Time for another shot of the utter craptisity of Lotus Notes, as used in my workplace.

Situation: writing an email (or "memo" in Notes parlance). You decide to close the window you're working in. A normal program would give you a dialogue warning box with perhaps three choices: OK to delete the email you're closing, Cancel the action of closing the email, or Save the email you've been working on in your drafts folder. Lotus?

lotus-send-confusion.JPG

FIVE OPTIONS!

You have to read every single one of those buttons every single time you get this freaking thing because they are completely meaningless and arse-backwards.

First, read the message again: "Choose Cancel to continue editing". Cancel to continue? This has got to be a wind-up.

Next: why oh why is there a Send Only button? You don't need a send button at all – because you've chosen to close this email! If you accidentally closed it, well then, just press Cancel to prevent the close, and then carry on your happy way. And what does Send Only mean? Send it, but don't do some other unspecified thing?

And how does Send & Save differ from Send Only? Send Only will send the email, and put a copy of the email in your Sent Items folder, while Send & Save willl… send the email, put a copy in your sent items folder and a copy in your drafts, maybe? Who knows.

Crap like this means this software is broken.


An Easter Egg. Of Sorts.

15 June, 2006

Here’s an interesting tidbit for all you people forced to work on Windows-based machines (by forced I mean you are either forced by your work, by your finances, or by your lack of knowledge that there are better computers out there ;-)). Note that doing this will not crash your computer or anything else dodgy.

 Here's how to do it:

  1. Open up Notepad (not Wordpad, not Word or any other word processor)
  2. Type in this sentence exactly (without quotes): "this app can break"
  3. Save the file to your hard drive.
  4. Close Notepad
  5. Open the saved file by double clicking it.

Odd, yes?


Crap in the Email Details. Part 1

18 May, 2006

I had a large post written up, in which I eventually got around to saying that Microsoft's software is generally crap, while Apple's and Google's and a select few others is generally good. No surprise there, you might think. However, I eventually realized over the course of my rather long and digressionary rant, that Microsoft software is actually just mostly crap when compared to those good companies. When compared to some of the other shit out there, Microsoft's offerings look, and I don't want to appear too fulsome here, almost adequate.

And what lead me to this conclusion? Using email programs at various workplaces. Outlook/Entourage have their bugs, but nothing to compares to the crap of GroupWise, or even worse: Lotus Notes. Allow me to provide examples of the latter, that I use at my current workplace, as I come across them. Here's one from the Lotus Notes "Help", to start with:

lotus how to delete.JPG

The fact I needed help to delete an email was a clue something was wrong with this program.

Note that you can't use the normal email method of:

  1. Select email to delete
  2. Click the delete button (or hit delete on keyboard)

Next, note that hitting the delete button, doesn't. Delete, that is. It just puts an X next to your email. What fucking use is that? To remove them from sight, hit the F9, and see that this has removed your emails entirely, so you can't go and retrieve them if you made a mistake. Note also, that there is also no method of selecting multiple emails other than by clicking individually to the left of each one to mark it.

So basically, you need to have all your trash emails sitting around in your way, because if you actually follow the steps, your email is gone forever. No convenient trash container here, folks. And don't try dragging them out to another folder that you've set up for trash or other emails you don't want cluttering up the place, because they still won't go from your inbox – they end up in both places! How convenient.

More to come…